6000… That’s how many feathers a wild turkey has to care for on a daily basis. Maintaining body temperature, flight, predator evasion and social hierarchy all rely on a turkeys ability to keep its feathers in prime condition. As you can imagine, attending to feathers takes hours of dedication everyday and comes with a large risk. The head of a preening bird is often buried underneath the lofted quills, blocking it’s eyesight. This is a very vulnerable activity and hens and toms alike will only engage in preening if they are 100% convinced it is safe to do so. That means no predators, no humans, no fear of the bogeyman. For a wild turkey, thats a tough task. An animal that has developed a neurotic factor second to none from being preyed on by seemingly any predator from bobcats to owls requires a lot of convincing to lay down its guard.
This is the exact reason Dave set out to make the most relaxed pose possible in 2022 after good friend and long time DSD partner Matt Winters approached him with the idea. If that name rings a bell, it’s for good reason. Matt is the brain child behind the White Face paint schemes we now offer on all of our gobbler decoys. After trusting his observations of countless days in the field and seeing the effectiveness of the White Face schemes, we knew that we had to seriously consider this idea as well.
The Preening Hen is more than a decoy, it’s a tool that allows you to control the narrative in the field. It tells nearby hens, jakes and toms the same thing; it’s safe. It’s safe to approach, it’s safe to hang around and most importantly, it’s safe to not be on high alert for predators. You can imagine how much of an edge that is for hunters at close range with a bird that has a 270 degree field of vision and superhero like detection of movement.
We had all the confidence in the world that this pose would be super effective, but what we didn’t see coming was how much better the decoy worked when used in multiples. It wasn’t until we started experimenting that we really began to study the behavior or wild turkeys preening in the field. In a flock, it was amazing how common it was for hens to gather and preen all at the same time. Even more surprising, more often than not, hens would be preening the same feather groups at the same time. This common practice makes multiple preening hens placed at varying angles all the more natural and effective.
Since the 2023 Spring launch of the Preening Hen, hearing the first hand accounts of experiencing turkeys approach the decoys and begin preening right alongside the hen decoys has been amazing. There have been some very creative approaches to using these decoys as well. One that comes to mind is friend and partner of DSD (that you have no doubt seen images from if you’ve spent any time on the DSD website), Steve Davis, has played with placing multiple preening hens on logs and low branches with custom mounts. This not only gives a very natural and unique look to the spread, but it also allows the decoy to be unobscured and highly visible from a long way off.
After seeing the success that customers were having using more than one Preening Hen decoy in their spread and how much more effective it was, we knew we had to make it easier for you to try it out. So for 2024, we’re excited to introduce the Preening Hen Pair. The new combo makes it easier and more affordable to buy multiple preening hens. By bundling and shipping these decoys together we can pass that savings on to you like we do with our pairs and flocks. Keep in mind that you can also get the Preening Hens in our custom flocks where you can choose up to three with any of our gobbler decoys.
We are incredibly excited to see photos and hear stories from everyones hunts and hope to see some creative setups with this little confidence booster of a decoy!